Last week, nearly all of 20JFG spent their sunny Sunday afternoon amidst the utopian concrete spires of the Barbican. Which is, of course, something we try to do as much as possible. But in this instance it was to attend a gig, (organised by Max Richter) that answered a very important question: what would the Venn diagram look like if you overlaid people into the Avant-Jazz-Metal of Ex Eye (aka Colin Stetson’s metal band™) with fans of the overwhelming electronic dreamscapes of Caterina Barbieri. That overlap looks a bit like us, it turns out.
Later that night, we found ourselves watching Colin Stetson videos on YouTube. Marvelling at repurposing of the saxophone as rhythm/percussion/melody/sonic bludgeon while his Wikipedia origin story was read aloud. Which led to the reader opining, ‘I always associated the saxophone with smooth jazz’. Well, this week’s track is for you.
Ben Vince recently put out the five track LP Assimilation. Aptly titled as four of the five tracks are dense collaborations; each track with a different set of artists so entwined as to be seamless. So it feels a little weird to be presenting the fifth, collaboration-less track here but we wanted to focus on the sax. The sax and its capability for strangeness.
Assimilation, begins with a dizzying set of reverberating notes that draws on classical minimalism. Yet where minimalism often evokes towering structures, complex and modern, Vince’s world seems to fly. That it feels organic is probably indivisible from the breath in every note.
This airborne, restlessness is joined at times by a distant and bassy horn. A harbinger of some enormous calamity. Perhaps one that has sent the notes into the sky in the first place? We are joined for a while by minimal percussion but this soon fades, as if movement from this place is fruitless. Better to watch the notes ascend above. Better to watch their strange dance with each other.
Ben Vince’s Assimilation is out today on Where to Now? Records. You can buy it right here.